Salmon – that was feared to have been instinct in Idaho – may be making a comeback. Clearwater River opened a fishing season for coho salmon, offering people the opportunity to try to catch what has become an extinct fish. It seems that the tribe of Nez Perce has managed to save and restore Idaho salmon with its coho program.
What happened was, the dams from the 1900s blocked the pathway of fish into the Clearwater River Basin, and then when more dams were added the amount of coho from the Snake River continued to lessen. So much so that between 1984 and 1990 only 12 adult coho crossed from the Lower Granite Dam and then from 1991-1996, none at all returned, thus making most believe the coho was now extinct from the area.
But then all of a sudden, in 1997, 840 adult cohos returned, with fewer the next year. But by 2003, that figure had gone up to 1,135. Then, five years ago, cohos that returned were spawned and supplemented with eggs from the Columbia.
This year, the number has exploded to 15,000, enabling Idaho to open a sport fishing season, giving credit to the tribe that has been supportive of the program.